LP £12.99 OPAL050
LP on Opal Tapes.
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- Southgate by Siobhan
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The Trilogy Tapes is to London what Opal Tapes is to the Northeast, or Redcar to be more specific. I can’t explain what a pleasure it was to find out that the person I’d seen bellowing into the microphone fronting ‘Boro Scum’ outfit Drunk In Hell was in fact label head Stephen Bishop, also responsible for the music I’d made no discernible link with as Basic House, and furthermore the chap who was quietly getting on with releasing ‘outsider house’ artists like Huerco S, Tuff Sherm and Prostitutes from a knackered-looking seaside town notable only to me for being a place that one of my friends got into a fight resulting in him losing his sense of smell. They’ve managed to rack up an impressive 49 cassette and vinyl releases so far, and this torrid little number from US producer Travis Galloway marks the 50th.
I have an idea that the distinctive, run-down-almost-malfunctioning label aesthetic is a response to its surroundings, if so, that idea is complemented perfectly here in ‘Southgate’, which can in many ways be taken as an audio-map of the Michigan city that gives this record its name. Based on the sounds contained within I doubt I’ll be rushing to pay it a visit. This is the sound of night-zone perambulations in a dank metropolis, skirting interior and exterior borderlines, simultaneously looking out from the shadows and into the void. It’s realising that you’re in a bad neighbourhood too late at night, you’re being followed by a pack of armed degenerates to your car which, inconveniently, appears to be on fire and you’ve also trodden in dog shit.
The occasional mumbled, indecipherable vocals set against the overdriven industrial cladding bring to mind a pitched-down version of John Dwyer’s short-lived S&M-themed Ziegenbock Kopf project or the bloodthirsty romps of Xander Harris; the bleached tape aesthetic only adding to the boxed-in sense of claustrophobic dungeon ambience. Every so often out of the gloom a track like ‘New Wave Retailing’ will belch up some scorched neon chords and burnt, bubbling electro arpeggiators, but for the most part ‘Southgate’ skulks around in the dark.
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